UDATE: The podcast is up! My interview is first if you don't want spoilers for the newest episode.
Part one, in which I take podcasters in particular to task for the objectification of Amy Pond.
So, when Paul called me up (man, accents are hard to translate on cell phones!) he explained: "I don't know if this is true in the U.S., but in the U.K. most Doctor Who fans are gay." Which of course makes the whole conversation about Amy Pond take a different tone. A much more ironic tone, for example? So I do take back my ire at Paul, who is not an asshole, and a very friendly person.
We're all, by the way, lucky I didn't swear. It took concentration not to do that.
N.B.: Paul was asking me for solutions, and I was probably coming off a little vague. That's because 1) I am 23 and don't have all the feminist answers yet and 2) the privileging of male voices in DW fandom is part and parcel of (not separate from) Western patriarchy, and that's not exactly an easy problem to fix. It's complicated. I mentioned making fan spaces safer and more welcoming for women. Practical applications of that are a bit easier, things like not objectifying female characters in those spaces, calling out sexism in those spaces, supporting women when they do face sexism in those spaces. This is the job of individual female-friendly fans who occupy those spaces. This means not only moderating (i.e. deleting overtly violent or hateful misogyny, homophobia, racism, transphobia, etc.) but also just calling it out when it isn't ban-worthy. Tell people, for example, who post on the Gally forum that "girls don't get sci fi" that they are sexist assholes who can take their sexist assholery elsewhere. That might not make them leave, but if enough men (and women! Women can be complicit in this as well.) call it out, more women are going to feel like the forum is a safe space for them, a space where they don't have to face inevitable misogyny on their own, but are supported by their fellow fans. And because male voices are privileged in fan spaces (except in certain places, like Livejournal), it means that men who ARE those privileged voices need to make a concerted effort to include more diverse voices (not just women, but people of color, trans, genderqueer, etc.). They have to reach out and invite us into the conversation. Paul's contacting me is a great example of this. We're out here, talking about Doctor Who and what it means to us and what it's like to be ourselves in this community. You have to reach out, you have to make us feel welcome. Because otherwise, it's easy to assume that you're perfectly happy with the way it is, where every review episode of every DW podcast is a string of men talking to each other.
As for how to evaluate Amy, it IS possible to be sex-positive and not objectify her. For some interesting discussion on this, see the Feminism 101 thread on feminist porn. It's important to recognize the male gaze and subvert it. I do think we can talk about Amy Pond as a sexual character, as a character who is promiscuous, without objectifying her, without talking about her body as though it were public. We need to acknowledge not only how we look at her, but how the camera looks at her. This is not an easy conversation to have, and I have no pat answers or easy solutions. But as long as we're having a critical conversation about it, and are willing to take criticism and responsibility for the things that we say, we're on the right track. There's not exactly a whole lot of precedent for talking about sexual women in a way that doesn't 1) slut-shame or 2) objectify. Or even 3) both. So we have to make this conversation up as we go along, and that means screwing up every once in a while. It also means considering criticism of our discourse carefully and remembering all the while that real women and their bodies are at stake in that conversation.
Part of the reason that there seems to be a contradiction between allowing Amy to celebrate her own sexuality onscreen and not objectifying her is that we have screwed up definitions of women's sexuality. There is no contradiction once we define Amy sexuality by her own desires, not by the display and consumption of her body by heterosexual male viewers. When we allow "Amy reveling in her own sexuality" to be "Amy partaking of and enjoying her own desires," female sexuality is not spectacle, with all the power dynamics inherent in that model, but a model of autonomy and subjectivity, in which women articulate and fulfill their desires in whatever way makes them most happy. We need to stop defining sex by a heteronormative and patriarchal standard in order to resolve the contradiction between viewing Amy as (heteronormative) sex object and giving the character space to celebrate her sexuality.
Thanks, Paul, for inviting me on the show! It was lovely and I hope some good comes of it.